Up for hunting clear cut? Check these tips first.
Hunters forced to hunt newly timbered clear-cut land have to work harder to be successful than those who have the advantage of hunting old growth timber or farmland. The changes brought on by clear-cutting a large timber tract can affect the travel patterns, eating habits, and bedding areas of whitetails and other game.
Because of these consequences of such a drastically altered terrain, it is imperative that hunters take steps to adapt their hunting practices to accommodate these changes.
By changing hunting habits, hunters can effectively settle in to a new way of hunting in what once was familiar but is now unfamiliar terrain.
View the slideshow to see the five tips, and share any more you may have in the comments.
Changing Patterns of Wildlife
In order to adapt to the changing atmosphere of a newly timbered tract of land, hunters have to understand how the changes will affect the animals being hunted. Wildlife that once counted on the mash provided by hickory or oak trees have to either move to a different area to feed or change their feeding habits.
Often clear-cut timberland grows thick with briars and undergrowth after the trees are removed. Once this browse begins to grow, deer and other wildlife can use it as a food source where no others are available. Hunters can use the new feeding habits of these animals to figure out the best place to set up a blind or tripod.
Set Up Around the Edge
If a hunter is lucky enough to be able to hunt standing timber next to a large tract of clear-cut, he has the best of both worlds. Deer, turkey and other animals will travel the edge of clear-cut, especially if there is cover like standing timber or thickets adjoining the clear-cut area. Wild animals like deer prefer to travel where they can find cover relatively quickly.
By traveling the edge of a clear cut area, wildlife is able to feed on the browse provided by clear cut undergrowth while having ready cover available with the thicket or standing timber nearby. Hunters who set up near these travel corridors stand a great chance of catching these animals as they feed or move through the area.
Shooting Lanes are Vital
After a few years, clear-cut timberland grows thick and solid with undergrowth, including saplings, briars and sage grass. Without management, this undergrowth becomes nearly impassable. Deer and other wild animals will still travel through these areas for browsing and concealment, but hunters will find it nearly impossible to have enough visibility to effectively hunt in this type of environment.
For that reason, the only good way to hunt clear-cut with more than a few years of growth is to create shooting lanes or avenues through the undergrowth and set up near those lanes where there is the most visibility. Shots in this type of situation will be quick and have to be accurate. Since hunters will only have a few moments of open visibility to make a decision to shoot or not, it is important to find a spot overlooking the most terrain.
Even then, hunters will have more blind spots than open lanes. Success is still possible. Hunters just have to work a little harder and pay a little more attention.
Treat It Like a Field Setting
While the clear cut is still small and short enough to provide little cover for wildlife, hunters need to hunt it in like they would hunt an old field. Set up a ground blind with good visibility of feeding or travel areas or choose to set up a tripod overlooking the same areas. Deer, turkeys, and other wildlife are easy to see in the open space of a newly clear-cut tract. The problem is, so are hunters. In order to successfully hunt in such an open setting, hunters have to account for that lack of cover by using the walls of a blind or boxed in tripod to eliminate their profile and hide their movements.
Plant Food Plots on Ridgetops
Hunting clear-cut timberland usually means hunting an area with ridges and valleys. A good way to get wildlife to travel through a clear cut area in the manner you prefer is to choose where you want your blind or tripod and plant a food plot in a spot close by. Depending on state laws, you will need to make sure planting a food plot is legal and also to determine how close you can hunt to a food plot. Once you know the laws, planting a food plot is a great way to get game in the habit of traveling through your preferred area.
In a setting where ridges and hollows are prevalent, planting a food plot on top of a flat ridgetop is a great choice. Wild animals love high elevations where they can see and smell predators. Often, a whitetail or tom turkey will travel the length of a ridge rather than drop off in a hollow where both scent and visibility are limited. Hunters who recognize this travel preference can greatly benefit by planting food plots in these elevated travel areas.